President Donald Trump told the nation he was ordering an immediate shut-down of all travel from Europe to the United States as he addressed the nation on the coronavirus in a prime time Wednesday speech.
‘We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,’ Trump announced in a speech from the Oval Office to the nation.
Speaking hours after world health officials declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Trump repeatedly defended his own actions and vowed the nation would prevail in countering the virus and getting treatment on the market.
The ban will apply to travellers who have visited 26 countries in mainland Europe in the last 14 days but not travelers from the UK or Ireland, or US citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members.
Trump said the ban would come into effect at ‘midnight’ on Friday though confusion reigned over exactly how it would be implemented – including how the cut-off would apply across time zones, which routes Americans would be allowed to use to get home, and whether travelers returning from Europe would face screening or quarantine.
The State Department also warned Americans against all inessential travel abroad, raising the prospect of mandatory quarantines and further bans that could leave people stranded.
CNN reported that all travelers returning from Europe would face mandatory quarantine, though did not make it clear where that information came from.
The move was so sudden the acting Homeland Security secretary said he would issue full guidance on how to carry it out within 48 hours.
Trump’s address also made no mention of measures being adopted by other countries to stop the spread of the virus within their borders – like closing schools, banning public gatherings and restricting travel between cities.
While he did announce copayment wavers for coronavirus treatment he made only a brief mention of test kits and did not say whether the waver would apply to testing.
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